This blog post was written by Processing Archivist Thomas DeShong and GRC Operations Manager Jonathan Tomes.
For the past several semesters, staff have taken time to reflect upon what has transpired over the course of the semester. This self-reflection allows us to assess whether we are growing and striving to meet our mission of providing resources for researchers – both on and off campus.
While the pandemic has certainly discouraged many researchers from travelling to repositories, we have had the opportunity to serve several patrons via email from a variety of locations including the University of Houston, the University of Oklahoma, the University of South Carolina, and several Baylor students.
One of the staff’s treasured experiences this past semester was a presentation given to Dr. Julie Holcomb’s MST 3304 class (Introduction to Cultural Collections Management). Mary, Amanda, and Tommy talked about their archival backgrounds and led the students in a mock processing exercise. The class was a huge success, and we hope to partner with Dr. Holcomb and the Museums Studies Department in the near future!
Processing remains at the heart of what we do as a special collection. Major processing projects, including the O.C. Fisher papers, the Bob Poage papers, the Jack Hightower papers, the Hyde Murray papers, and a new addition to the Chet Edwards papers, continue to progress towards completion. Two collections – the W. R. “Bob” Poage U.S. Government papers and the John E. Hogan papers – have finding aids that will soon be made available to the public.
Museum Studies Volunteer
This spring, Poage had the opportunity to welcome Museum Studies master’s student Hadley Elrod as a volunteer. Hadley, with Tommy’s help, set about processing the John E. Hogan papers. Hogan served as legal counsel to various House committees including the House Agriculture Committee. Elrod was able to experience what archivists traditionally do with processing collections – creating an inventory, a preliminary processing plan, and ultimately, a finding aid. It was a joy having Hadley, and we wish her the best following her spring graduation!
In addition to Hadley, Poage Library would like to congratulate two of our undergraduate student assistants – Kayla Thompson and Chelsea Smith – on their spring graduation. Kayla and Chelsea have been valuable members of our Poage team for the past several years, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. Way to go!
Library staff have had to adjust to new norms during the pandemic. The annual conferences we attend have also had to adapt. In May, staff members attended the annual meetings for ACSC (the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress) and SSA (the Society of Southwest Archivists). While we wait with great anticipation for the days when we can meet with our colleagues in-person, these organizations have done fantastic jobs of transitioning their meetings to an online format. Several speakers included Q&A sessions in which fellow archivists discussed how their repositories have adapted to the pandemic.
The Graduate Research Center remained open and available to graduate students throughout the spring semester. By adapting to Baylor’s guidelines, we were able to support students in our reserved spaces for a combined total of 2,589 hours. The average booking duration for our rooms was 3 hours and 17 minutes. Although we could not host the usual events and groups throughout the year, our stats demonstrate that the GRC provided an important service to students in maintaining a clean and secure space where graduate students could focus on their studies without distraction. We look forward to a return to regular operations in the fall semester.
As the school year winds down, we are thankful for the health and safety of our Poage team. The 2020-2021 fiscal year presented several challenges as we attempted to navigate an admittedly chaotic world. As always, we are optimistic about the opportunities that lie before us and cannot wait for the summer session to begin!